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When you talk about good food, a pleasant ambiance, a garden in the heart of the capital and innovative creations…Al Falamanki will come to mind. My story with Al Falamanki started a long time ago... Since they first opened, my friends and I would always end up there after a long day....enjoying their fine creations in a nice setting.
Not only is this place a source of peace, the story behind it is really something. Al Falamaki restaurant was created by Anis Falamanki who wanted to honor his father Khalil Al Falamanki.
Khalil was born in 1917. he was not able to get much of an education due to his father’s early death, which drove him to move down to Beirut from the mountains. But Khalil’s talent for sports helped him become a renowned professional wrestler. An injury forced him to stop his wrestling career. But one fan, a wealthy Egyptian businessman Tarek Fakhry hired Khalil as his bodyguard. He then became his confident and they traveled the world together for many years. During his travels, Khalil met celebrities who admired his absolute loyalty to Tarek, as well as his charm and charisma. He was close friends with people like Alfred Hitchcock, Kirk Douglas and Maria Callas to name but a few.
After Tarek’s death, these celebrities stayed in close touch with him… Along the years, Khalil collected a lot of memorabilia, photos and so much more. Anis decided to give his late father’s many memorabilia a suitable home and, at the same time, honor his father’s other passions which included food and music by creating Al Falamanki.
Al Falamanki is a popular place. A wide space in the heart of Achrafieh, boasting an open terrace with Lebanese-style indoor seating that serves a wide range of Middle Eastern and authentic Lebanese dishes. Al Falamanki welcomes you 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a -week for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as an all-day Arguile service. Al Falamanki is the place to enjoy your time, nibble on special Lebanese food in a nice atmosphere, and to meet up with old and make new friends while enjoying the history behind the place.
Updated and improved, Al Falamanki welcomes you in its large garden, surrounded by soothing greenery while the inner space is air-conditioned, pushing away the summer’s heat. Enchanted by the old tunes of our grandparents, early mornings are the best to enjoy the calm of this space before it gets crowded by card players and smokers in the afternoon.
Breakfast, lunch or dinner, I’ve been ordering the same items since day 1. Labneh mixed with diced vegetables, grilled halloumi cheese with fig compote, jennet Khalil from Hrajel, as well as fried potato chunks with a red and yellow sauce.
The setting is wonderful… I love it:
Give your car to the valet, climb up a few stone steps and be welcomed into a large terrace that will carry you far away from Beirut’s chaos. The rich greenery adds a touch of freshness while blocking the strong summer sun from the sofas and tables below. At the very end, a house, with its high ceiling looks like a hangar, or what was known as “ahwet el ezez” in the old days. Pink walls decorated with musical instruments, old paintings, backgammon boxes and Turkish hats, old Lebanese tiles and glass facades make this space a relaxing and soothing oasis. The L-shaped space is divided in the middle by the open, clean and interesting kitchen and oven. You can find square and rectangular tables and relaxing sofas sitting all around that can host hundreds of customers who normally gather during the afternoons for a match of backgammon and in the early hours to have breakfast after parting the night away. My favorite spot is the large dining table that is surrounded with 12 chairs, it really makes me feel at home. Earth colors perfectly blend together in this space, one that I really enjoy.
- The story of Khalil Al Falamanki
- Seasonal sides
- Al Falamanki after-hours and breakfast
- Hot appetizers
- Cold appetizers
- Grills and others
- Dish of the day
- Oven and saj
- Deck of cards for 7,500L.L
Dreaming of a hefty, rich and fulfilling Lebanese breakfast, Al Falamanki was the perfect choice. Welcomed by a professional staff that has been working here since the day they opened, I went directly to my favorite corner, the one under the TV along the main wall. My order: Labneh, halloum and a choice of manakish accompanied by a cup of mint tea.
As we ordered, a basket of bread landed on our table containing a bag of Lebanese bread and another of the thick brown markouk that I simply adore; with Labneh, it’s the perfect combination. With that, a bottle of olive oil, salt- and peppershakers and a sugar dispenser I last saw at our friends up the mountains.
You can’t but appreciate the ambiance. A fresh air-conditioned space, a light breeze dancing around the trees, sunny spells caressing the tables, a rustic anterior lacking any pretense around a spirit of relaxation, where you feel the country waking up slowly and smoothly.
- Labneh LBP8,750: Simply Labneh, a generous portion of a thick mix, offering an acidic aftertaste that’s enjoyable. It’s clearly not commercial.
- Labneh Makhlouta LBP9,500: That’s the big thing, my favorite. I could eat of it all day, all week for a year. Home-style Labneh mixed with vegetables cut in small cubes, adding a sense of taste and an enjoyable crunch.
- Grilled halloum or halloumi steak LBP15,000: This dish consists of a round piece of cheese, grilled to perfection and served with two whole jammed figs with their sugar syrup fig-flavored sauce. Imagine the saltiness of the white cheese mixed with the sweetness of the figs all coming together in one bite wrapped in that wonderful bread. Waw!
- Jebnet Khalil LBP14,500: A cheese from Hrajel, provided by a company called “Al Hrajli” which I will be writing about soon. A one-of-a-kind white cheese that’s not elastic like halloum, but tender and condensed at the same time, not salty, not watery but enjoyable as is without any add-ons. That’s the real flavor of our mountains with a knowhow that goes back to our ancestors
- Vegetable platter LBP9,000: The vegetable platter is interesting to write about because it’s served with crushed ice in a clay pot. Fresh vegetables served cold to be enjoyed with the mezze.
- Two eggs LBP11,000: Cooked in their clay pot, served as is and ready to dig in. I loved their simplicity.
- Manakish saj, zaatar LBP5,250: Cheese LBP11,250, and keshek LBP8,750, all good. Tasty and, most importantly, very generous, I loved how thin the dough was, a dough that doesn’t absorb oil or water.
- Fool or fava beans LBP9,500: Well mixed with chickpeas, lemon juice and olive oil. As good as you’d expect, but I wouldn’t come to Al Falamanki to order it. For me, fool is a ritual that’s mixed live in front of you.
The little details which make all the difference:
- If you order a lot of things, an additional table is brought up to accommodate the food.
- The place is s soothing and relaxing, as if you’re transported into another dimension
- All the food is just perfect, freshly prepared
- I’m in love with their bread
- The menu is written in Arabic and English. Take your time to browse; it tells many interesting stories
A lovely setup and every detail mastered to perfection makes the items a little bit expensive when it comes to some of the street food options. Expect to pay a minimum of $20 per person which I believe is worth it.